Simple spatchcock chicken is an easy recipe which will allow you to cook a delicious, juicy whole roast chicken in just 45 minutes. The meat will be super succulent and juicy, and it's really easy to carve.
On first glance, spatchcock chicken sounds a bit chef-y, something that you might not really want to tackle at home. But actually, it's really quick to do and totally transforms roast chicken.
What does spatchcock mean?
Spatchcock is thought to be a corruption of the phrase 'dispatch the cock' - ie eating a chicken fairly soon after it has been dispatched. It involves cutting the chicken down the backbone so that it can be laid out flat to cook. Spatchcock chicken is sometimes known as butterflied chicken - once the bird is opened up flat, you can see the butterfly shape.
What you'll love about the recipe
There are some real benefits to preparing a chicken in this way.
This simple spatchcock chicken recipe will cook in around half of the time that a conventional whole chicken will take to roast. A 1.6 kg spatchcock chicken takes just 45 minutes to roast in the oven. With this recipe, mid week roast chicken is an option!
Because the spatchcocked chicken has been flattened out, it cooks much more evenly. There's no time for the breast to dry out, and less risk of other parts of the meat not being cooked through properly. In addition, the whole of the skin is exposed, so if you like crispy chicken skin, you are in for a treat.
A chicken that has been butterflied is really easy to carve. Just remove the legs, cut off the breasts whole, and then slice them through
- A whole uncooked chicken. Mine was medium sized 1.6 kg chicken, but you can use this recipe for any size chicken and adjust the cooking time
- Seasoning and herbs. Herbs are optional, but will add extra flavour. Use woody herbs such as sage, thyme or rosemary
- Olive oil - or you could also use a little butter if you prefer
How to prepare simple spatchcock chicken
- Lay the chicken breast side down
- Using very sharp kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone, close to the bone. Turn the chicken around and cut along the other side, so that the backbone can be removed. The cut should be around 2cm wide. (Note in the picture it looks wider as it has sagged open!)
- Turn the chicken over, and press down firmly in the centre of the breast until you hear a snap. The chicken should then open out flat
- Place the flattened chicken on an ovenproof tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper and herbs
- Roast in a preheated oven at 200 degrees (180 fan)
How long to cook a spatchcocked chicken
A spatchcocked chicken will take about half the time of a conventionally prepared chicken. My 1.6 kg chicken was fully cooked through in just under 45 minutes. However, if your chicken is a different size, just calculate the conventional cooking time, and halve it. The standard calculation recommended on the chicken I buy is 20 minutes for every 500g, plus 25 minutes.
Using the BBC roast calculator as a starting point, cooking times for a spatchcocked chicken should be as follows:
- 1.2 kg = 35 minutes
- 1.4 kg = 40 minutes
- 1.6 kg = 42 minutes
- 1.8 kg = 46 minutes
- 2.0 kg = 50 minutes
Please always check that your chicken is cooked through thoroughly. Insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and check that the juices run clear. If you prefer, you can use a meat thermometer.
Like all roast chicken, this recipe will benefit from being left to rest for 10 or 15 minutes before serving.
I enjoy butterflied chicken all year around. It's delicious in the summer served with oven baked chips (made with white or sweet potatoes) and some salad. Try serving it with healthy coleslaw or this quick waldorf salad.
In the winter, enjoy it with veggies such as this healthy cauliflower cheese without flour. Or for a special treat why not add some gluten free Yorkshire puddings, low fat dauphinoise potatoes and gluten free onion gravy?
Simple spatchcock chicken is also great to cook for healthy meal prep. If you've got a larger family, you might want to cook a second chicken at the same time so that you have plenty of leftovers. Why not try using cooked chicken in easy chicken ramen or this healthy coronation chicken salad which is a super quick, healthy recipe?
Frequently asked questions
Chicken is a healthy, relatively lean meat, packed with protein and important vitamins. This recipe adds very little fat to the cooking process. However, the amount of fat that it contains will depend on whether you can resist the crispy golden skin!
Once a chicken has been spatchcocked, it is much flatter. That means that more of the chicken is exposed to the heat. As it's also thinner, the heat will penetrate more evenly. Additionally, you can use a hot oven to roast a spatchcocked chicken without the risk that it will dry out. It takes about half the time to roast a bird in this way.
A good sharp pair of poultry shears do make spatchcock chicken easier. But you can also use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, or even a knife. Whatever you choose, make sure that you take great care.
Other healthy chicken recipes
You can also browse other healthy meat recipes.
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Simple Spatchcock Chicken
- kitchen shears
- oven proof baking tray
- 1 medium chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- handful fresh thyme leaves
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan).
- Lay the chicken breast side down. Using very sharp kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone, close to the bone. Turn the chicken around and cut along the other side, so that the backbone can be removed.
- Turn the chicken over, and press down firmly on the breast until you hear a snap. The chicken should open out flat.
- Place the chicken on an ovenproof tray with a rim. Drizzle with oil olive, thyme and seasoning. Roast for 45 mins, or until the juices run clear.
- If possible leave the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- You can also use other woody herbs such as rosemary or sage in place of thyme.
- If using a large or small chicken, you'll need to adjust the cooking time.
- Please check carefully that the chicken is fully cooked through. If you pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer, the juices should run clear.
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.